Establishing a legacy ...
Washington, on Tuskegee's 25th anniversary, transformed an idea into a 2,000-acre, eighty-three building campus that, combined with such personal property as equipment, live stock and stock in trade, was valued at $831,895. Tuskegee's endowment fund was $1,275,644 and training in thirty-seven industries was available for the more than 1,500 students enrolled that year.
Through progress at Tuskegee, Washington showed that an oppressed people could advance. His concept of practical education was a contribution to the general field of education. His writings, which included 40 books, were widely read and highly regarded. Among his works was an autobiography titled "Up From Slavery" (1901), "The Man Farthest Down" (1912), "My Larger Education" (1911), and "Character Building" (1902).
Washington settled into the national scene on opening day of the Atlanta Exposition in 1895 when he spoke about "The New Negro," one with "the knowledge of how to live ... how to cultivate the soil, to husband their resources, and make the most of their opportunities."
Eyebrows raised again on Oct. 16, 1901, when Washington became the first Black person to dine at the White House. Counsel to many U.S. presidents, he was there at the invitation of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Washington was married three times. In 1882, he married his Malden sweetheart, Fannie N. Smith. She died two years later, leaving an infant daughter, Portia (who married William Sidney Pittman, an architect, in 1907).
In 1885, Washington married Olivia Davidson, the assistant principal of Tuskegee, who died in 1889. Two sons were born to this marriage: Booker Taliaferro, Jr. and Ernest Davidson. In 1893, Washington was married to Fisk University graduate Margaret Murray, who had come to Tuskegee as lady principal in 1889 and directed the programs for female students and initiated the Women's Meetings.
Margaret and her husband's three children and four grandchildren survived Washington, who died November 14, 1915, at age fifty-nine of arteriosclerosis and exhaustion. He died after an illness in St. Luke's hospital, New York City, where he had been admitted on November 5. Aware that the end was near, he left with his wife and his physician, Dr. John A. Kennedy, Sr., on November 12, so that he could die in Tuskegee.
Washington's November 17 funeral in the Tuskegee Institute Chapel was attended by nearly 8,000 people. He was buried in a brick tomb, made by students, on a hill commanding a view of the entire campus.